Sunday, June 28, 2009


I DNF'd at mile 43.8 due to injury. The ankle pain I experienced a few weeks ago in the right foot made itself known again and I also pulled my left quad really bad as a result of the altered gait.

According to the aid station doctor, I have bad tendinitis in the ankle resulting in limited mobility and flexibility in the foot. While that was painful in itself, it was tolerable. But when I pulled the quadricep a mile or two before the aid station, going on was impossible. My limp was (and still is) really bad.

I have to say the doctors and the volunteers at the Last Chance (appropriate name) aid station were all great. They took my dilemma very seriously and bent over backwards to try and get me going. However, efforts were futile, and I asked if they were going to yank me from the race. They said it was borderline, but ultimately made it my choice, but it was clear there was only one real option. I was somewhat surprised they left it in my hands, but at the time.. who knew? It could have just been a bad knot or something in my quad, but later it became clear it was a bad pull.

I get the impression they only really yank you if you could die or something, which is good and the way it should be. However, other than being cougar bait, I wasn't going to die. I could still move, but only at an old man's pace, if that. I told them I couldn't go on and dropped. They looked a bit relieved at that.

Perhaps needless to say, I'm immensely disappointed. This is a tough pill to swallow. DNF's are common in the ultra world, but given that this was at Western States just makes it rough. Put on top of that the hassle of it getting canceled last year and extending the wait makes it even rougher. Go ahead and throw in everyone that flew out to help me out and it's rougher still.

It also stinks because other than the progressing ankle/quad problem, I was feeling pretty good out there. The heat was definitely really tough, but I was staying at my starting weight of 178 and moving along just fine until the injuries came on progressively and the pace was affected and started to drop.

I'm going to take a few weeks off and heal up. As for this morning, the quad still feels just as bad. I'm really sick of this string of injuries.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Western States 100 Tracking

If you're interested, you can track me and the other Western States 100 runners here:

Western States 100 Tracking

My bib number is 89, in case that's needed once they have it going.

Happy running!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Western States Goals


I head out to California tomorrow, and spent the morning doing some cleaning and this afternoon and tonight will be about packing and getting my gear and drop bags arranged. The long wait is nearly over and I can't wait to get started!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my goals and I've made some revisions. There are goals and there is reality, and the two aren't always necessarily the same. I think the reality is I'll probably finish between 25 1/2-26 hours, based on calculations comparing my own VT100 times to others who have done both races. That's logic talking, pure and simple, and it's hard to argue with logic. I appreciate all of the encouragement that I can break 24, but it's time to get real and math rarely lies.

That being said, I'm still going for breaking 24 hours, and that is the goal. Despite what I said above and at the risk of sounding contradictory, I'm not resigned to finishing in 25 1/2 - 26 hours, and will run as hard and as smart as I can for the silver. Never done this course and my training has been going well, so who knows? I'll just give it my best and hopefully it'll all be enough. The only real disappointment would be not walking away with any buckle whatsoever, silver or bronze, so finishing that sucker while giving it my best is all I can really ask. I'll seriously be happy with either so long as that happens.

As for today, just a quick four miles on the roads. Opted not to hit the trails as I need to make sure my three pairs of trail shoes either dry out or remain dry before I pack them away. At least California promises sunshine. Forecasts still call for heat, but are showing a downward trend for the high temp in the canyons, which is great (97 last night, 95 this morning, 94 as of this post).

Ran 4.0 miles @ 8:17/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/149
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid 60s, overcast, light rain at start.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, June 22, 2009

End of School Run

Last day of school today and I have the next few months off. It's been an awesome year of teaching (my fifth), and while I'll enjoy the break, I'm sure the trend will continue where by early August I'm looking forward to getting back.

But for now, time to celebrate! Went out for a muddy trail run this afternoon. With the weather we've had this past month, you'd think Seattle's climate has jumped over our way... cool, rainy and overcast most days and only a small handful days of sun that haven't lasted long.

The heat out in California will be quite a contrast later this week. I'll have to summon my Florida upbringing to battle what's expected. Currently, the forecast is calling for temps in the mid-90s on Saturday for the lower elevations. The climb up to Devil's Thumb will be a hot one. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with a regular supplement of electrolyte pills and hopefully I'll be fine. Hey, at least there are no wildfire to cancel the race as of yet!

Ran 4.2 miles @ 9:33/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/161
Muddy trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, overcast, light rain.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Deer Flies Are Not Missed

Did the 7.1 mile loop in the woods out back at a moderate pace. Pretty hard to push the pace with all the mud and large puddles from all the rain we've gotten lately, and I told myself to slow down on the fire road sections where you can go faster, just to keep things at a moderately slow level. Tomorrow will be shorter and slower, with the goal of keeping the heart rate in the 130s for recovery.

The deer flies have been out the past few weeks, but their numbers are low and their attacks are slow. They haven't really been much of a nuisance at all. It's been really nice. Normally by now, they are out in full force and quite relentless. Not the case so far. No doubt this has been because of cooler weather this month and lots of rainfall. I'm musing that without the sun and warmer temperatures their metabolisms are low. Regardless, I don't miss their company.

Worth noting I slowed down to talk to a couple of horseback riders on the second fireroad section. They knew of the VT100 (100-mile horse race also accompanies the ultra) and had visited it before to spectate. I got the impression that's a huge event for the horse crowd also. Cool.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 9:39/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/166
Technical, muddy trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
70 degrees, partly cloudy turning overcast.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Western States and the Dark Tower

A week from tomorrow and it's game time. What is kind of eerie is that where I'm at mentally for the Western States 100 very much parallels a character in a book I'm reading. I'm almost done with the seventh and final book of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series. Roland of Gilead's journey has been long to find the Dark Tower (all seven books worth), and with just several dozen pages left, he is apparently almost there.

We both share a sense of anxiousness that the moment is nearly at hand and the long wait is nearly over. We have both overcome obstacles and triumphs along our paths, and I can totally relate to his character in a way that is scary. Being that this is a Stephen King novel, that could be perceived as a negative, but it's not, at least for now. I don't know how the book ends, so it's hard to say if I want to stay on the same track as the main character for much longer.

From here on out it's obviously just tune-up runs, just as they have been the past week and a half. Felt great on today's run, and had a nice progression throughout, hitting a sub-7:00/pace for the last two miles overall. The legs are feeling just how I want them to and next weekend they'll get there biggest test yet. Sweet.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 7:24 mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 157/170
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, light mist to start, overcast.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Short Trail Run

Took the past three days off from running, which I think was definitely a good idea. Felt fresh today and the ankle was fine. It was maddening to not run though, which made today feel especially nice.

Hit the woods out back. Saw a couple of forest workers out there and chatted with them a bit. They told me about how they were thinning out underbrush in certain areas to let the taller trees grow to produce more shade, which will help eliminate a type of sun-loving beetle that does substantial damage to trees. Cool.

Ran 4.2 miles @ 9:17/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/163
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 70s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, hat.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taper Madness and the Western States 100

Reduced running time with the Western States 100 only being about a week and a half away is driving me a bit nuts. The legs are raring to go, but what is more maddening is that I can't get my mind off the race. I can't go a few minutes without thinking about it and not being able to run as much to rest the body and mind is driving me a bit nuts.

I've taken the past few days off from running to let a sore ankle heal. It's no big deal, and I'm just being overly cautious. It's already feeling much better (not that it was that bad to begin with), but may give it another day, maybe even two, just to be sure. No point in being banged up with the race this close. The hay is in the barn, so I want to make sure every squeaky wheel is getting the grease and am paranoid about aggravating anything.

I've been thinking a lot about my goals and my mindset lately, which echo those from around this same time last year:

The big goal is to break 24 hours. I think I'll need everything to go right in order for that to happen though. This course, while not the toughest out there, is still considerably tougher than the Vermont 100 course where I have finished in 22:09 (37th place) and 22:26 (33rd place) respectively, the latter being slower but having a higher finishing percentile thanks to extremely hot and humid conditions.

If you follow the equation that the WS course is 16% harder than the VT course, that'd put me in well after 24 hours. However, if you go by finishing percentile (typically around top 20%-25%), than I should break 24 hours. So which one wins? Well, analyzing others' results has shown many runners who have beaten my time at VT have not broken 24 hours at WS. Plus, one has to take into account that going by finishing percentile might not be accurate since there are typically more hot shots competing at WS than VT each year.

I am definitely not the most talented runner out there. Many of the friends I train with are far superior ultra runners than I am and would have no problems breaking 24 hours on this course, of that I am confident. But still, I don't exactly suck either. I still think I can do it and I'd be stupid not to make that the goal and try. While it won't be as easy for me, I still have a chance and rest assured, I plan on giving it absolutely everything I have. Of the two 100s I've done, one thing is I felt I've ran really smart and didn't do anything substantially stupid. I knew when to push and what to do to get out of rough patches, and it's worked well.

I'm also happy with my training and have a lot of trust in it. Several great months this late winter and spring that have yielded quite a few runs over 30 miles and also a 100+ mile week. It's all gone well, considering the plantar fasciitis problem I was having over the winter which is now a non-issue.

So that's where I'm at mentally and physically. Always helps to type things down to organize one's thoughts.

While I'm at it, the WS folks have the email notification is up. In addition to tracking on the website, you can also get updates emailed to you whenever I reach a checkpoint. I'd recommend adding a few of the top guys (Jurek, Koerner... I'd say Krupicka but unfortunately, rumor has it he's out of the race) as well:

Western States Email Tracking

Happy running!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Good Recovery Day

I actually felt a little beat up when I woke up this morning after last night's run. I knew whatever I did today needed to be in the spirit of recovery with Western States being so close (holy crap, just two weeks now). The perfect idea came when Neighbor Kate called asking me about a trail loop and I offered to tag along and show her.

We took it easy and the result was a perfect recovery run/hike with a nice, low heart rate. The creaks I were feeling this morning disappeared throughout the trek. Just a slightly sore right ankle that has been around since the beginning of the week, but it's not a big deal. I'll give it another run tomorrow and if it's still a bit of a bother, will go with being overly cautious and rest it a few days just to be sure.

Worth noting the deer flies were very scarce. Not a nuisance at all the couple of occasions when they were present. Normally they're out in full force by now. Perhaps the somewhat cooler weather the past few weeks has kept them at bay? Regardless, they are not missed.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 14:29/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 111/136
Trails, dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 70s, partly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Night Run, Porcupines and Leeches

Great run tonight on the trails at Blackstrap. Purpose was to get some more practice in running at night with headlamps for Western States. Challenging, technical trails at Blackstrap made it a fine choice to do so. Stephen, Ian and Jamie were also present, making it a very fun trek. Jeff also swung by beforehand to say hi (he lives just down the road from the trailhead) and invited us over for some beers afterwards, but we were pretty muddy and smelly afterwards so we just opted to all get home and shower up.

We got under way a little past 8pm. The sun was starting to set and at times we were treated to great views of the mountains silhouetted against a brilliant orange sky. Very nice indeed. We also saw a porcupine when we traversed the tree farm. Ah, nature...

It soon got dark and a little past four miles, Ian decided to make his way back since he has a big run planned for tomorrow. We bid him farewell and the three of us headed west on the powerline trails under the power of our headlamps.

We encountered a particularly large puddle/small pond right in the middle of the trail with no easy way around it. It was thigh deep and as we waded through we joked about the possibility of leeches. Sure enough, we began to spot them in the water when we neared the other side. Great. Fortunately, none hitched a ride with us. I later offered Stephen $100 if he'd lay in the water for 5 minutes, but he didn't take the offer.

We continued along the powerline trail, having trouble finding it a few times but never losing it for long. Found a trail that ducked into the woods for a bit and took that. It ended up on a road, and we decided to head back.

Great run and a lot of fun, thanks to the very challenging terrain and of course the great company. Surprised at how slow the pace was as we were actually running pretty fast it seemed, but the number includes quite a few stops and slow downs to negotiate direction or obstacles.

Running at night on unfamiliar trails always makes for a great adventure! Was glad we did it. Felt pretty strong and energetic and the legs felt fresh. Taper appears to be going well. Ready for it to end though, I am so psyched for Western States, not to mention nervous and anxious. Bring it on!

Ran 10.2 miles @ 10:53/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 141/167
Technical trails.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 60s, clear skies.
Shorts, short sleved shirt.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Seven Out Back

Fun run in the woods behind my house. I feel pretty darn lucky to have great trails to run on literally from my own backyard. There are hundreds of acres of protected woodland back there that make for some awesome trail running. I love it!

I basically connected a series of trails to create a new seven mile loop. First mile and a half is on some rolling trails through the woods and then you come out on a fire road and run that for about a mile and a half. That part is pretty flat, but once you take the ATV trail back into the woods, there is a very technical climb for a little over a mile and a half. It's a buttkicker.

After the climb, you have a rolling downhill that takes you through some nice sections of woods and back on to another fire road for a small stretch, and then finishing off on a roller coaster section through the woods back to my place. Good stuff.

Very pleased with the pace. After I warmed up for a few miles, I felt very energetic and I felt like I was just cruising along. Great run.

Worth noting, no deer flies during today's run. Kind of cool out, but with the high humidity it felt much warmer.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 8:28/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/165
Technical trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
60 degrees, overcast, humid.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Recovery Four

Rest day yesterday did some good. Focus now is resting up and letting the training hopefully culminate to a peak for Western States. Happy with the past four weeks of training with pacing Stephen at Massanutten (37 miles), following that up the next weekend with a 50-mile race, and then the 20 miles of hill repeats on Saturday. Great stretch to hit before taper time, and the training prior to that had been going well also. Hopefully it'll all be enough.

As for today's run, just a little over four in the woods out back. Took some new trails, but had a general idea where they went. I felt sluggish and creaky for the first couple of miles, perhaps partially due to just waking up from an afternoon nap, but by mile three I hit my stride and was cruising for that last mile or so.

May take a rest day tomorrow just to let the legs recover a little more from Saturday's run. I don't think I tapered well enough last year. Not that I tapered terribly or anything, but I think it could have gone slightly better had I allowed a little more rest.

Worth noting I killed my first two deer flies of the season. They weren't out in full force by any means and I'm actually surprised I killed two. Still... theeeeeeey're heeeeeeeere.

Ran 4.2 miles @ 9:34/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 139/158
Technical trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 70s, partly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ossipee Hill Repeats

Final long run before the taper went extremely well. I had planned on doing three repeats up and down Ossipee Hill (1050') but felt really good so I ended up doing four for a little over 20 miles. More importantly, steep climbing and descending throughout. I really wanted to give the quads a good workout today, and they got it.

I parked at the base of the mountain and got under way. Beautiful day out, but someone was working at the firetower on the top so I opted not to climb the steps to get above treeline for better pictures. Oh well, probably would have lingered too long if I had.

Great final hard workout before the taper. Was really happy I did this workout, I felt it was perfect. Stoked to feel really strong and energetic throughout. Hopefully everything will be enough for the big day in three weeks. But the hay is now in the barn, so we'll see!

Looking southeast:

Looking northeast:

The firetower:
Ran 20.2 miles @ 10:05/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/162
Dirt roads, jeep roads, trails.
Insanely hilly.
Upper 50s to lower 70s, partly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Puny Three

Wanted to keep today's run short to save the legs for tomorrow, which I anticipate being my final kinda-big workout before I begin tapering down. I've been a weird state of running limbo lately in that I ran the 50-miler two weeks ago but it's still not time to taper yet for Western States. It's been a mix of recovery but still trying to get in some good workouts when I felt I was able to do so without overdoing things.

Just noticed the past three runs have all had an average heart rate of 150. Cool.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/166
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, overcast, humid.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Short and Sweet

Had another great run today. Today was shorter, but on a bit of a tougher route. Technical trails throughout, with the exception of a steep, one mile climb on a dirt road. Very pleased with the pace and it didn't feel like it took that much effort to achieve it. I don't think I've ever run this route this fast.

Presently, I'm feeling pretty good about how I'll do at Western States. Got a boost the other day as my uncle John will be flying out to help crew. I got an all-star team helping me out with him in addition to my father, brother, Danny, and of course Stephen who is going to pace me the final 38 miles. A family friend, Brooke, may be joining to crew also. Yessir, it'll be fun.

I'm planning on a rest day tomorrow, and then I'm tentatively planning on a light run on Friday and then a bigger run on Saturday. After that, hay is in the barn and it's time to taper down for the Big Show!

Ran 4.7 miles @ 8:22/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/169
Technical trails, dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 70s, mostly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Where Does This Trail Go?

Another mission of exploration today. I ended up with a nice 10 mile loop. While this run was slightly longer than that, if I take out the one turn that dead-ended, it'll knock off about 1/2 a mile.

Really enjoyed exploring new territory. I'd say about half of this loop was on trails and the other half on well groomed fire roads. Because of this, the pace was relatively fast.

Here are some pics:

Most of the run was through the northern section of the Massabesic Experimental Forest, which is right behind where I live.

Selective logging was done in a couple of sections, as evidenced by the lack of thick under-brush and orange rings painted around every tree that still stood. Good habitat for deer and moose, though I saw neither. Just a big turkey.

Deep in the woods, I came across this old car. I don't think it runs anymore. It was quite bizarre seeing it out there, as I was running on an ATV trail at this point that wouldn't have been wide enough for a car these days.

Eventually the trail came out on a very bumpy dirt road along a lake that I recognized, and this road led back to the trail I normally take when I run back in these woods. Along said bumpy dirt road, I came across this little guy, a painted turtle:

I soon reached the other lake, and as tradition dictates, I stopped and walked out on the fallen tree and admired the view for a few minutes. This is done on every run, unless the bugs are really bad.

Good day.

Ran 10.6 miles @ 8:49/pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/168
Trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 70s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.